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Licensing Computer Techs As TV Repairmen 408

Posted by timothy
from the mendacity-mendacity-mendacity dept.
An anonymous reader writes "According to a story in yesterday's New Orleans paper, the Louisiana Radio and Television Technicians Board has sent letters to computer techs demanding fees to license them as radio and TV repairmen. Apparently, as computers drive more home theater applications, the board is trying to classify them as 'playback and recording device equipment,' which the law gives the board power to regulate. It looks more like a money grab, though, since no test is required, just $55 and an affidavit." It seems to me the better question is not whether computers can be defined in many circumstances as playback and recording equipment (hard to get around), but whether this kind of forced classification makes sense in the first place. Disingenuous quote of the day: "We're not trying to swing our arm around a whole bunch of people to get new revenue."
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Licensing Computer Techs As TV Repairmen

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  • I can't fix most TVs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lord Kano (13027) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @06:58PM (#9895133) Homepage Journal
    and most TV repairmen can't fix computers.

    It's obviously a way to try to grap money.

    LK
  • by BrynM (217883) * on Thursday August 05, 2004 @06:59PM (#9895146) Homepage Journal
    Technically, in California you have to be a licensed appliance and electronics repair person already. It's just not enforced (that wouldn't go over well in San Jose). I wish I had time to find a better link to source, but here's [ca.gov] a link.
  • A+ for TV repair (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ShineyMcShine (799387) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @07:00PM (#9895158) Journal
    It works both ways, A+ for the TV guy and TV license for computer tech.
  • Oh cool (Score:2, Interesting)

    by huber (723453) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @07:00PM (#9895162)
    Nothing against tv repair men, it is a very technical skill in many respects, but i didnt pay $28,000 for 4 years of school to be registered as a tv repair man.
  • by ElForesto (763160) <[elforesto] [at] [gmail.com]> on Thursday August 05, 2004 @07:01PM (#9895164) Homepage
    It follows a disturbing pattern of "licensing for no purpose" that has been firmly established as standard operating procedure in this country for decades. We license driving, marriage, fishing, hunting, and now WORKING? What's next? An oxygen license? I hope plenty of IT workers stand up and say "hell no" in a massive act of civil disobedience. For that matter, let the TV and radio guys do it too!
  • by RealAlaskan (576404) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @07:11PM (#9895247) Homepage Journal
    From the fine article:
    Brohn [ Stanley Brohn, secretary of the Radio and Television Technicians Board...] said the letter sent to Broussard and others was misleading in stating that the license requirement would apply to a broad range of computer technicians and consultants, and not simply those wanting to set up home entertainment systems.
    So, just maybe, they are simply trying (clumsily, but legitimately) to enforce an existing law as it was intended to be used. If they tell computer techs who aren't trying to specialize in home theater systems that they aren't subject to the tax, we'll know that the government there is honest. Or is that an oxymoron?

    Of course, the idea of licensing TV repairmen is neither more nor less insane than the idea of calling computer repairmen TV repairmen. All it accomplishes is to restrict the supply and drive up the prices, hurting the very public it was ``supposed to protect''.

  • Good grief (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Flower (31351) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @07:23PM (#9895349) Homepage
    Just pass the cost to your customers and make a tidy profit at it over time. If someone complains explain the whole stupid situation for them and they can vote the idiots out of office.

    Like this isn't what will happen anyway.

  • Don't pooh pooh it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by OYAHHH (322809) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @07:27PM (#9895371) Homepage
    For those of you,

    Who are staring down the double barreled outsourcing monster you might want to consider a talent for fixing TVs as a godsend.

    I mean, who in their right mind is gonna ship a 60 inch plasma TV to india for repair? Gotta be done locally, get the drift....

    Plus, from everything I've ever seen those TV repair guys make some pretty good dough while getting to play with all kinds of electronic gadgetry.

  • by DrLudicrous (607375) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @07:28PM (#9895372) Homepage
    Apparently, Louisiana is well-known for this kind of crap. In order to be a florist in Louisiana, you have to be licensed. Achieving this requires taking a $150 exam before a committee. Of course, the committee is composed of other local florists, to whom you represent competition. For a quick blurb on this, and the effort to eradicate (which has already failed), check out:

    http://www.2theadvocate.com/stories/071504/opi_edi 2001.shtml [2theadvocate.com]

  • by Entropius (188861) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @07:29PM (#9895383)
    Which is all of them.

    I've been fixing computers for people for a long while, and have never had to open a CRT or power supply. They're just not the sorts of things that break, especially since 90% of repair requests involve cleaning up after Microsoft and are software-only.
  • by Lord Kano (13027) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @07:35PM (#9895433) Homepage Journal
    Which is all of them.

    I disagree.

    I've been fixing computers for people for a long while, and have never had to open a CRT or power supply. They're just not the sorts of things that break, especially since 90% of repair requests involve cleaning up after Microsoft and are software-only.

    I don't know about the work you do, but I've had to open a few monitors. Especially when I was doing repair work for Apple. I couldn't tell you how many analog/power boards I replaced in Summer 2000 iMacs. I have a Gateway monitor on my desk right now that was declared junk. I opened it up, fixed it and have been using it for nearly 5 years. Not a bad lifespan for a free piece of hardware.

    I open every dead power supply that I come across to grab the fans. You never know when a 12V fan will come in handy.

    LK
  • by way2trivial (601132) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @07:36PM (#9895441) Homepage Journal
    The IRS can require you to report all income, including from your drug deals, stolen property you fence, and income from illegal gambling...

    and penalize you for failure to do so..

  • What's a "repair"? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by YouHaveSnail (202852) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @07:40PM (#9895466)
    What specific actions constitute a "repair"?

    Backing up a hard drive?
    Swapping one hard drive for another?
    Swapping one hard drive for another because the first had failed?
    Re-installing Windows?
    Replacing Windows with Linux?
    Modifying the Windows registry?
    Unplugging one mouse and plugging in another?
    Brushing dirt from the lens of a (optical) mouse?
    Moving files around?

    There are so many ways that a computer can "break" that don't require getting out your soldering iron... I'd think it'd be difficult to differentiate between someone who "repairs" computers and someone who "supports" computers.
  • by pla (258480) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @07:41PM (#9895473) Journal
    I would imagine that TV repairmen were originally regulated because they had to know how to safely work on open TV cabinets containing dangerous high voltages, operate test equipment on those high voltage circuits, and install suitable replacement parts that wouldn't catch on fire.

    I worry about this particular money grab for exactly that reason...

    Everyone so far has complained that PC techs have very little in common with TV repairmen, and should not need licensure under the same rules.

    I would point out the flip side to that - Under this wonderful scheme, Lousiana would suddenly have a lot of "licensed" TV repairmen who had no clue how to safely (or successfully, for that matter) repair an actual TV.

    My suggestion for all the geeks annoyed by getting such a letter? Send in your $55, add "TV Repair" to your shingle, and assuming you survive your first electrocution, sue the hell out of the state for making you think you had the skills needed to safely do that job... "Well, they said I could, and in fact, they even said I had to!"
  • TV reapir dudes (Score:2, Interesting)

    by zogger (617870) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @07:45PM (#9895506) Homepage Journal
    just my anecdotal, but I've been to two differnt TV repair shops in the past two years,once for a monitor repair (not worth it cost wise but possible) and once for a vcr part (unobtanium) both places had stacks of computers and monitors in them, and the guys there did all manner of repairs, in fact, more repairs on computers (real repairs, not just component swapping) than the average whitebox shop I have been in. I found both the guys to be quite hip and knowledgeable computer users and techs. They got into the biz because they loved gadgets and had the attitude and aptitude for it, so it's a simple transition to working on boxes. One came from a dotmilgov tech background, the other from a hobbyist to a civvie tech school background.

    FWIW
  • by xiando (770382) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @07:50PM (#9895531) Homepage Journal
    As another comment said, get that lisence if you actually do open up CRT monitors and power supplies.

    I do fix other peoples computers from time to time. Home computers. I never opened a CRT monitor. Because I do not know "electronics", I know computers. If the PSU breaks, I get a new PSU. The PC is "repaired", the PSU is broken.

    So I don't get why you would need a paper saying you can do "high volate" (I belive that's why "not just anyone" was supposed to open av TV 50 years ago..). I don't. I do computers. If repairing PSUs is your thing, then do get that lisence. But wait, a PSU doesn't do playback and ANYONE can repair that, apparently, fixing a computer by replaceing a broken PSU, a square box you, as already stressed, DON'T open.. lol
  • by teslakid (190035) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @07:59PM (#9895578)
    Recectly, the state of Minnesota decided that only Certified Electricians can legally install low voltage electrical cable, which includes network and alarm system wiring. Here's http://www.mwpersons.com/articles/3-12-01-licensin g.html [mwpersons.com]one man's story with a link to the relevant code. Gotta make sure those network cables don't electrocute anybody.
  • Actually... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ElForesto (763160) <[elforesto] [at] [gmail.com]> on Thursday August 05, 2004 @08:02PM (#9895591) Homepage

    I'm already running for office (3rd time), and I'm the county chair of a political party (not the Republicrats). And now to address your points...

    Driver's licenses do not do anything to ensure safe driving. Not wanting to get into an accident ensures safe driving. Not wanting to get cited or hauled to jail ensures safe driving. How does paying a couple of dollars every few years (with no testing) ensure that I drive safer? It doesn't. I would personally feel safer if the truly unsafe drivers (speeding to excess, reckless driving, DUI, etc.) were thrown in jail for extended periods. Maybe it would discourage the bad behaviours.

    Marriage licenses were originally meant to prevent inter-racial marriages. I prefer the system of common law marriage as a license is a permit to do something that would otherwise be illegal. When did normal marriage become illegal? I support keeping them around for people that want to quickly bypass waiting periods and such.

    Fishing and hunting licenses don't make a dime's worth of difference in population control. It just ends up amounting to another case of "papers, please". Why the heck do most states require an SSN for one of those? It's just another control for the sake of control.

    You're wrong on what a license is. See above: a license is a permit to do something that would otherwise be illegal. I'm very suspicious of any attempt to make something illegal and replace its legality with a licensing system.

  • by artemis67 (93453) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @08:05PM (#9895604)
    And yet somehow, it's still a mystery as to why the Louisiana economy has been in the toilet for 20 years...
  • by lonesome phreak (142354) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @09:19PM (#9896033) Journal
    I hear you on the fans. I've also fixed many a noisy, soon-to-be-dead power supply by just oiling the fan. I use the fans in all sorts of other projects too. Recently I installed a five-inch 12v fan out of a dead Dell Poweredge to increase my room's AC flow. It's about 15 degrees cooler now than it was, and it's been 108 outside.
  • by humankind (704050) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @10:22PM (#9896381) Journal
    Being in New Orleans, I got wind of this about a week ago and was amused - there's a grass roots effort to oppose this bone-headed idea. Unfortunately, this is a prime example of how chaotic and irrational the government down here is. Everything you've heard is basically true.

    We spawn politicians that have the dubious distinction of removing park benches as a means to stop homeless people, school board members that spend more money on lawsuits than they do schools, a monopoly daily newspaper that all throughout 1999 referred to the year 2000 as "the millennium" with a small blurb that said, "some purists believe the millennium begins in 2001", neo-nazi state representatives, indicted governors, etc. The former governor repealed the mandatory helmet law for motorcyclists... I could go on and on... This is one messed up area... This latest fiasco is more of the same.
  • by YouHaveSnail (202852) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @10:37PM (#9896483)
    Replacing Windows with Linux? I haven't heard of that one, but who knows.

    There are those who consider that any PC with Windows installed is "broken" in any number of ways and can only be fixed by means of drastic measures. The point, of course, is that in order to require "repair men" to obtain a license, you'd have to come up with some sort of definition of what constitutes a "repair," or of the conditions under which a computer is "broken."

    I'm not saying old people are dumb, it's just hard for them sometimes to understand what a desktop is.

    Okay, I'll bite: what's a desktop?

    Answer: the desktop is an illusion, and a vague metaphor. Back in the early days of Macintosh, the metaphor a bit more concrete than it is now. In addition to the Trash and document icons that looked like sheets of paper, we had desk accessories similar to those you might find on a real desk (scrap book, puzzle, clock, note pad, etc.) and applications that tried hard to support the "desktop" metaphor. Most importantly, Apple shipped an introductory program which explained the metaphor and taught people to do things like point, click, drag, and use menus. These days, GUI's are a lot more complicated, and there's an awful lot that doesn't fit into the desktop metaphor at all. Many, if not most, applications are designed with complete disregard for the metaphor. In short, the "desktop" notion has pretty well outlived its usefulness. It's no surprise that new users (young or old) have a hard time figuring out what a "desktop" is, because today's interfaces give you darn little clue.

    I can't wait in 50 years when most people will have grown up with computers and the basics of them will be familiar.

    Fifty years from now, we'll have about as much clue about the tech du jour as our grandparents have now. Stuff most people would consider "basics" will almost certainly change. The "desktop" business will surely have given up the ghost by then, and people will have a hard time undestanding why you'd want to have a "central" processing unit. New tech based on multistate circuitry could make binary computing seem quaint. Global warming and astronomically expensive energy may give people some badly needed perspective and actually reduce our reliance on electronics. Who knows?

    So the first time you hear yourself tell your grandchildren "Back when I was your age, we used machines called 'computers' to do that...", just remember: you heard it here first.
  • by mackinaugh (603633) on Thursday August 05, 2004 @11:40PM (#9896806)
    Not that we're know for corruption [katc.com] down here or anything [mapinc.org], but Roger Villere [villeresflowers.com] is also the chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party [louisianarepublicans.com].

    There were those who thought there might have been a connection between the florist licensing thing and him, but I dunno. There was also the home inspector license thing [homegauge.com] initiated a year or two ago, and now this shit. They're always whining that they need more money.. There was the "temporary" business tax-thing [2theadvocate.com] that got "renewed" because they need more money. And the Stelly tax joke [2theadvocate.com].

    How about instead of trying to suck us dry, we try to get all these fuckers to keep their hands [nola.com] out [nola.com] of the pot [nola.com] ?
    It's no wonder nobody wants to do business in our state.

  • Regulating shysters? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Mr. Roadkill (731328) on Friday August 06, 2004 @01:07AM (#9897091)
    One of the problems I've seen in the consumer end of the computer industry is that practically anyone can call themselves a "computer technician" and fix the things. I've seen people ripped off horribly. Case in point, my wife has a friend who was told "Once there's a virus on your hard disk, it's there forever - for $200 we'll provide a new one, install all your software on it, and safely dispose of the old one". No, that's not the rip-off because I fixed the thing for her instead - the initial purchase of the system and all its pirate software was in this instance, but I've got a dozen similar tales dating back fifteen years. Registration doesn't indicate competence, but it does mean that they've needed to provide a fee and adequate identification to the state before setting out their shingle. It makes it that much more likely that in the event of a problem you can track them down. It makes it a little less likely for the more overt shonks to set up shop for a month or two then move. It's annoying for the legitimate businesses, but might under some circumstances help keep the less desirable out. Of course, then we have the ongoing problem of who is deemed "undesirable", and with computers being able to be viewed as playback or encryption devices we have a whole other can of worms.
  • by MikeHunt69 (695265) on Friday August 06, 2004 @01:57AM (#9897233) Journal
    What's next? An oxygen license?


    Actually, you already need an oxygen license. Oxygen is actually a drug and to administer it to someone else, you need to have EMT or dotor/nurse training. Of course, there's nothing stopping you going to Linde gas and buying 50L of compressed O2 yourself, but if you give it to someone else and they die, you can be held responsable.

    DAN (Divers Alert Network) offer a course on how to provide oxygen for scuba diving injures involving DCS. At the end of it you recieve a 'license' that says you know how to provide o2. Thing is, part of the course is the memorisation of a phrase along the lines of: "It has been demonstrated that oxygen could improve your condition. I am not offering this oxygen to you, but the regulator is working and I am leaving it here next to you".


    I know, I know, you probably meant air (21% o2, 79% n2) when you said o2 above..

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 06, 2004 @07:22AM (#9897963)
    Same thing, Libertarianism=Dog-Eat-Dog/Survival-Of-The-Fittest
    Dog-Eat-Dog/Survival-Of-The-Fittest=Anarchism

    Anarchy (New Latin anarchia) is a term that has a number of different but related usages. Specific meanings [1] (http://www.yourdictionary.com/ahd/a/a0282000.html ) include 1) absence of any form of political authority; 2) Political disorder and confusion; and 3) absence of any cohesive principle, such as a common standard or purpose.

    Sounds like a shititarian to me.
  • Sort of ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Friday August 06, 2004 @09:23AM (#9898778) Homepage
    You can actually buy marijuana tax stamps, which you are required to place on all bags of the stuff.


    While it is true they require you to have the tax stamps, they haven't actually sold the tax stamps in a whole lot of years.

    Since they never actually issue the stamps, nobody can ever be in compliance with the law. Therefore, they effectively make it illegal since they don't give you a (real) route to make it legal.

    Go ahead, try and get yourself some of those stamps. :-P

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 06, 2004 @11:05AM (#9899682)
    In the late 70's Dr Tim was arrested coming into this country with a bag of marijuana. He SUCCESSFULLY appealed his conviction, and i believe his defense was something like this:
    In order to buy the stamp, i have to declare the marijuana.
    But if i declare it, it is self incriminating!
    Therefore, by the rights granted under the 5th amendment, you cant make prosecute me for not making a self-incriminating statement.

    The supreme court found for Dr. Tim.

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